Essex Police Special recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours List
Main article content
Congratulations to Special Superintendent Leon Dias who has been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to policing.
Leon has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to Essex Police and the Special Constabulary.
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington says:
“I have been privileged to work with Leon and to see his passion for policing and protecting our communities. “He has devoted more than half his life to serving the people of our county, donating a huge amount of his spare time as a Special, helping to keep people safe and catch criminals. “And that’s on top of his demanding day job, managing care homes for people with special needs. “His dedication and commitment to making sure that our Specials are fully supported in their volunteer policing role is inspirational. “Leon has worked hard to extend the number and variety of roles Specials can undertake across our force and to ensure they are well integrated with the teams they support.”
Leon, 50, first joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary as a Special in 1997 but transferred to Essex two years later when he moved home.
Since then, he has donated vast amounts of his valuable spare time to help to protect and serve our county. Leon rose through the ranks to become Chief Officer, the most senior position in the Essex Police Special Constabulary, before stepping back to the rank of Special Superintendent five years later because he missed operational policing.
Most recently, during the pandemic of the past two years, as Special Superintendent for Operational Policing, Leon liaised with the Eastern Region PPE hub based in Essex so Specials could collect and deliver essential supplies to the region’s police forces and health services.
Leon says the news of his BEM was a surprise.
“When the letter came through, it was amazing. It was not expected and it’s not why we do what we do. As well as the shock of the letter, the fact that someone, somewhere has taken the trouble to put me forward and that the medal is for ‘services to policing’ means a lot to me. “I have been fortunate to lead on some large operational events for the Specials but the success is only possible because of all the amazing other volunteers I work with, every day. This award is for an individual but it is also recognition for the values of all our volunteers. “Policing has been a part of my life for half my life. It’s an honour to be a part of it. I’ve also had some amazing opportunities, including being Response trained, and I’ve been involved in policing a lot of significant events so, in some small way, I’ve been a part of them.”
Leon remembers the Queen’s visit to Colchester in 2004 where she went on a walkabout and had lunch in the Town Hall before visiting the University of Essex.
“I was in charge of the ceremonial officers in the Town Hall and we were providing low-key security, too. That was a real honour. The Queen’s Protection detail at the time said they had never come across Specials being trusted with that much responsibility before.”
During his time as Chief Officer, Leon’s forward-thinking ultimately led to Specials taking on public order, roads policing and investigative roles. This has widened the opportunities available for our volunteer police officers.
He also volunteered Specials to assist the then new Mental Health Street Triage Team which supports people with mental health issues at incidents police are deployed to.
This work meant two vehicles, each crewed by a police Response-trained driver and a mental health nurse, successfully reduced the number of police detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act and admissions to A&E due to early intervention for individuals in crisis. The team went on to win a national Lord Ferrers Team of the Year award for their work.
In 2017 Leon returned to the rank of Special Superintendent.
“I missed operational policing. People join the Special Constabulary because, at the end of the day, we want to help our communities by catching criminals and keep people safe.”
He sees the role as being the perfect balance of being able to influence change within the service while being able to help people operationally.
Leon is self-employed – he runs a number of businesses in the Colchester area providing social care for people with learning disabilities – and says that his volunteering benefits him and his business.
“Being a Special helps me in business because I hear about the latest trends and thinking, which keeps me current and up to date.”
And because he can manage his own time, this has provided him with the flexibility to volunteer more than 2,200 hours helping the people of Essex, keeping you safe and catching criminals during the past five years. That’s an average of 37 hours a month, more than double the minimum requirement of 16 hours.
“Joining the Specials was one of the best things I have ever done. If anyone is thinking about volunteering as a Special, I would recommend it 100%.”
And it’s the volunteering aspect to the Special Constabulary which appeals to Leon most.
“If being a special constable was a paid role, it would feel different. Being a Special never feels like a chore.”
If Leon’s story has inspired you and you think you could fit the bill, why not take a look at the careers we can offer you: www.essex.police.uk/fitthebill
It's Volunteers Week from 1 to 7 June and we’re celebrating the valuable work of our Special Constabulary, Active Citizens, Police Support Volunteers, Volunteer Police Cadets and their leaders, who provide their specialist skills to our force and communities.
So, if you want to use your skills and life experiences to protect and serve Essex as a volunteer and make a difference to your community, take a look at what’s on offer and apply today: www.essex.police.uk/volunteer